Food Additives Chart

Types of Food Additives and Ingredients




The following food additives chart is a snapshot of the types of common ingredients that are added to food. It shows why they are used, and provides some examples of names that can be found on product labels. Some additives are used for more than one purpose.



Types of Food Additives What Food Additives Do Examples of Uses for Food Additives Food Additives Names on Product Labels
Food Preservatives Prevent food spoilage from bacteria, molds, fungi, or yeast (antimicrobials); slow or prevent changes in color, flavor, or texture and delay rancidity (antioxidants); maintain freshness Fruit sauces and jellies, beverages, baked goods, cured meats, oils and margarines, cereals, dressings, snack foods, fruits and vegetables Ascorbic acid, citric acid, sodium benzoate, calcium propionate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, EDTA, tocopherols (Vitamin E)
Food SweetenersAdd sweetness with or without the extra caloriesBeverages, baked goods, confections, table-top sugar, substitutes, many processed foodsSucrose (sugar), glucose, fructose, sorbitol, mannitol, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K), neotame
Colors Added to FoodsOffset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in color; enhance colors that occur naturally; provide color to colorless and "fun" foodsMany processed foods, (candies, snack foods margarine, cheese, soft drinks, jams/jellies, gelatins, pudding and pie fillings)FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2, annatto extract, beta-carotene, grape skin extract, cochineal extract or carmine, paprika oleoresin, caramel color, fruit and vegetable juices, saffron (Note: Exempt color additives are not required to be declared by name on labels but may be declared simply as colorings or color added)
Flavors, Spices and HerbsAdd specific flavors (natural and synthetic)Pudding and pie fillings, gelatin dessert mixes, cake mixes, salad dressings, candies, soft drinks, ice cream, BBQ sauceNatural flavoring, artificial flavor, spices and herbs
Flavor EnhancersEnhance flavors already present in foods (without providing their own separate flavor)Many processed foodsMonosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate or inosinate
Fat Substitutions in Foods (and components of formulations used to replace fats)Provide expected texture and a creamy "mouth-feel" in reduced-fat foodsBaked goods, dressings, frozen desserts, confections, cake and dessert mixes, dairy productsOlestra, cellulose gel, carrageenan, polydextrose, modified food starch, microparticulated egg white protein, guar gum, xanthan gum, whey protein concentrate
Nutrients Added to FoodsReplace vitamins and minerals lost in processing (enrichment), add nutrients that may be lacking in the diet (fortification)Flour, breads, cereals, rice, macaroni, margarine, salt, milk, fruit beverages, energy bars, instant breakfast drinksThiamine hydrochloride, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin, niacinamide, folate or folic acid, beta carotene, potassium iodide, iron or ferrous sulfate, alpha tocopherols, ascorbic acid, Vitamin D, amino acids (L-tryptophan, L-lysine, L-leucine, L-methionine)
Food EmulsifiersAllow smooth mixing of ingredients, prevent separation; keep emulsified products stable, reduce stickiness, control crystallization, keep ingredients dispersed, and to help products dissolve more easilySalad dressings, peanut butter, chocolate, margarine, frozen dessertsSoy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, egg yolks, polysorbates, sorbitan monostearate
Food Stabilizers, Thickeners, Binders, TexturizersProduce uniform texture, improve "mouth-feel"Frozen desserts, dairy products, cakes, pudding and gelatin mixes, dressings, jams and jellies, saucesGelatin, pectin, guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, whey
pH Control Agents and Acidulants in FoodsControl acidity and alkalinity, prevent spoilageBeverages, frozen desserts, chocolate, low acid canned foods, baking powderLactic acid, citric acid, ammonium hydroxide, sodium carbonate
Leavening Agents Added to FoodsPromote rising of baked goodsBreads and other baked goodsBaking soda, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, hartshorn, ammonium bicarbonate, carbonate of ammonia, powdered baking ammonia
Anti-caking Agents in FoodsKeep powdered foods free-flowing, prevent moisture absorptionSalt, baking powder, confectioners sugarCalcium silicate, iron ammonium citrate, silicon dioxide, magnesium carbonate
Humectants Added to FoodsRetain moistureShredded coconut, marshmallows, soft candies, confectionsGlycerin, sorbitol
Yeast Nutrients Added to FoodsPromote growth of yeastBreads and other baked goodsCalcium sulfate, ammonium phosphate
Dough Strengtheners and ConditionersProduce more stable doughBreads and other baked goodsAmmonium sulfate, azodicarbonamide, L-cysteine
Firming Agents Added to FoodsMaintain crispness and firmnessProcessed fruits and vegetablesAlum (Ammonium aluminum sulfate), calcium chloride, calcium lactate
Enzyme Preparations Added to FoodsModify proteins, polysaccharides and fatsCheese, dairy products, meatEnzymes, lactase, papain, rennet, chymosin
Gases Added to FoodsServe as propellant, aerate, or create carbonationOil cooking spray, whipped cream, carbonated beveragesCarbon dioxide, nitrous oxide



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Food Additives Resources



Got questions?

Get answers about food additives and ingredients.



Food and Drug Administration fda.gov



Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) fda.gov/Food  5100 Paint Branch Parkway College Park, MD 20740-3835



Color Additives Information fda.gov Color Additives 

Toll free information line: 1-888-SAFEFOOD (723-3366)

U.S. Department of Agriculture



Food Safety and Inspection Service fsis.usda.gov Food Safety Education Staff 1400 Independence Ave., SW Room 2932-S

Washington, DC 20250-3700



Food Additives Information usda.gov Fact Sheets on Additives



Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-800-535-4555

TTY: 1-800-256-7072

Email: fsis@usda.gov



Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) FNIC

USDA Ag Research Service

10301 Baltimore Ave.

Beltsville, MD 20705-2351

301-504-5719

Email: fnic@nal.usda.gov



International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) IFIC

1100 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 430

Washington, DC 20036

202-296-6540                Email: foodinfo@ific.org



American Dietetic Association (ADA) ADA

216 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60606-6995

312-899-0040



The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) FAAN

11781 Lee Jackson Hwy. Suite 160 Fairfax, VA 22033 1-800-929-4040

Email: faan@foodallergy.org



Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) IFT

525 West Van Buren Suite 1000 Chicago, IL 60607 1-800-IFT-FOOD (438-3663)